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Skype sale moves forward, patent disputes settled


eBay is inching closer to selling it’s popular internet telephony service Skype after reaching an agreement with Joltid and Joost M.V. over patent infringement litigation.

The settlement did not come cheap. Skype founders Niklas Zennstorm and Janus Friis have given up a lot of equity, bringing their total stake in the company to 14-percent, in order for Joltid to drop litigation and to pass all rights to the questioned underlying VoIP technologies to Skype.

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Digital Signage and Offline Behavioral Advertising


This is a guest post by Harley Lorenz Geiger from the Center for Democracy & Technology

The digital signage industry is rapidly becoming aware of the privacy issues raised by interactivity and audience measurement techniques. There is, however, no industry-wide consensus about how to address those concerns. Some industry figures agree that privacy guidelines need to be adopted if audience measurement and other digital signage applications are to progress. Others, though, have referred to calls for the industry to be sensitive to privacy as “attacks” and have condemned privacy concerns as a lot of hype over nothing. The privacy issue is real, particularly if one considers the big picture of where digital out-of-home (DOOH) media is headed.

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Toyota to recall 3.8M cars for interfering floor mat


Toyota has announced the company would recall up to 3.8 million cars because of a problem with the removable floor mats on the drivers side.

Toyota says, “A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a crash,”

Last August, a fatal crash occurred when a driver of a Lexus ES reported to an emergency operator of failing breaks and accelerating speeds, that car eventually crashed, subsequently killing four occupants.

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Patent ruling threats to halt Microsoft Word sales


A Texas-based court has just ruled in favor of a Toronto-based company, i4i Corp., in a patent dispute with Microsoft Corp.

The judge has ordered Microsoft to stop selling its popular document processing software Word 2003 and 2007 versions in the U.S. after Microsoft was found willingly infringing on patents obtained by i4i in 1998.

The judge also ordered Microsoft to pay US $290 million in damages to i4i, and has given Microsoft 60 days to comply.

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Ads with Eyes


This is a guest post by Harley Lorenz Geiger from the Center for Democracy & Technology

Marketers are creating digital signs that can display targeted ads based on information they extract from examining the contours of individual human faces.

These smart signs are proliferating in commercial establishments and public places from New York’s Times Square to St. Louis area shopping malls. They are a powerful innovation in advertising, but one that raises compelling privacy issues – issues that should be addressed now, before digital signs that monitor our behavior become the new normal.

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Nortel blocking RIM from buying wireless Nortel Assets


Waterloo-based Research In Motion (RIM) is looking to acquire Nortel’s CDMA and Long Term Evolution Access businesses, among other assets, for $1.1 billion.

Now, RIM is publicly accusing Nortel for intentionally blocking its acquisition bids mainly because RIM wants to buy additional Nortel assets.

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Wal-Mart set to update privacy policy to address newer channels


The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, has unveiled today a new and more comprehensive consumer privacy policy set to take effect on August 23, 2009.

The company is updating the policy to better outline terms on newer channels such as electronic marketing, including SMS, and data collection and sharing.

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Canadian Privacy Commissioner warns of Facebook privacy gaps


Canada’s Privacy Commissioner has concluded (see the complete findings report) they’ve found significant privacy “gaps” on what is now the largest online social network in the world, Facebook.

The report finds significant privacy issues on Facebook relating to: terminating existing accounts, management of accounts of deceased users, disclosing information to third-party developers, and collecting personal information on the site of people who are non-users.

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Madoff sentenced to 150 years prison


Bernard Madoff has just been given the maximum sentence allowed under law, 150 years in prison, as sought by the prosecution.

Just prior to today’s verdict, Madoff turned around to victims in the courtroom telling them “I left a legacy of shame…I cannot offer you an excuse for my behavior…I’m sorry.” His speech ran for about 6 minutes.

Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court in NY handed down the sentence about 10 minutes ago.

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North Carolina House passes tax breaks for $1B Apple investment


Apple Computers has showed interest in building a massive $1 billion data center in North Carolina.

Today, the North Carolina House voted in favor (81 to 31) of a bill that would grant up to $46 million to Apple in tax breaks over the next ten years.

The bill includes various provisions for Apple to get the breaks. Apple would have to provide health insurance, give up other state benefits, and would have to build the facility in one of the poorest counties. Additionally, Apple would have to also reach its $1 billion investment within nine years.

North Carolina in the past has changed existing laws to provide cash incentives to companies making significant investments.

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